Published: ‘What if?’ Introduction for North Light Arts 10 Year exhibition

Posted in CF Writing, News, Research, Sited work by chrisfremantle on July 9, 2020

North Light Arts kindly asked me to write a short piece by way of an introduction to their 10 year exhibition.

Gert Biesta proposes that we need to be,

…in the world, without occupying the centre of the world.

Whilst Biesta credits this idea to a French Educational Philosopher, Philippe Meirieu, Meirieu’s comments seem to be in the context of the classroom, and Biesta certainly uses the phrase in a larger sense, as part of what it means to be educated (see in particular Letting Art Teach: Art education ‘after’ Joseph Beuys, ArtEZ Press, 2017).

But for me this phrase speaks to an ecological understanding, or even ‘becoming earthly’ (in Latour’s sense). Ecological approaches to art are distinctive – they ask us to re-imagine our relationship with the world, as part of it, with art being not simply a human commodity or communication. Rather art is potentially a way to experience and understand the livingness and agency of the world, to share experiences with the more-than-human.

North Light Arts, under Susie Goodwin’s leadership, have put myriad aspects of the environment of the East Coast town of Dunbar as the focus of artists’ residencies.

John Muir, mostly known for his key role in the creation of the National Parks in the USA (remember the 1903 picture of him with Theodore Roosevelt on the top of the world?), was born in Dunbar. He provides North Light Arts and Susie in particular with inspiration. Muir is remembered for saying,

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

The power of imagination makes us infinite.

What art have I seen? Beuys Utopia at the Stag Monuments

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 26, 2018

Joseph Beuys: Utopia at the Stag Monuments at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac.

So what is the difference between Kienholz and Beuys? Both are constructing with everyday materials including furniture and other stuff selected for symbolic import. Both are speaking to the social. Kienholz’ Nativity or Beuys’ Feldbett?

Kienholz is utilising the detritus of urban society to assemble installations that comment on religion, race and sex. Beuys is using the most basic materials to provoke our understanding of the larger significance of life – fat, felt, electricity, ovens, clay, etc.

Beuys’ work suggests the potential for social transformation. Kienhol’ work on the other hand is mostly stabbing at hypocrisy with satire.

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What art have I seen? Hamburger Bahnhof

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 2, 2018

2018-03-02 14.09.09

Several amazing Robert Rauschenberg works.

Also major pieces by Joseph Beuys at the Hamburger Bahnhof including ‘Tallow’ originally made for Skulptur Projekte Munster and now in the collection. Caroline Tisdall’s description is much more evocative than the one on the archive website.

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